PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Some consider Memorial Day weekend to be the unofficial kickoff to the summer. In Port Aransas, people are excited for the weekend, as with it comes tourists excited to spend money.
“Tourism is our lifeblood here in Port Aransas, it’s everything we are and have to offer for our economy. Just about every business you see on the island here, in Port Aransas and on Mustang Island, really have a basis on tourism,” said Brett Stawar, the president and CEO of the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce.
Stawar estimates thousands of people will visit Port Aransas this weekend.
“Memorial Day means a lot of money, a lot of cash here in Port Aransas, and this will be probably another record breaking May for us, and a record breaking Memorial Day season,” he said. “Millions of dollars will be spent here in Port Aransas this weekend on Memorial Day, and it means so much to our economy.”
A big weekend is needed for a lot of businesses in the area, who have seen smaller than typical tourist visitation over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now, everybody here in Port A, as well as around the world, is kind of in recovery mode. So, being a tourist-based community, it’s a huge deal to have the influx of people that we do,” said Rachelle McCan, the owner of Sly Customs, which sells and rents golf carts.
McCan said the businesses typically sees an increase in rentals during busy tourist weekends, but they have been busy since spring break.
“It’s already been one of the busiest years we’ve had. With schools getting out and all that, obviously we’re going to picking up a lot more,” she said.
Another business excited for the weekend is Bo Jon’s Surf & Gifts, a souvenir shop that has been in business for more than 30 years.
“It’s definitely the busiest time of the year. Spring break to Memorial Day weekend, it’s been booming,” said Abbi Thompson, who has worked at Bo John’s for two years. “I’d say from last week until now, everybody’s excited for summer, and they’re getting out here.”
Thompson said the business relies on the tourism industry, which picks up over the summer months.
“It’s our livelihood, we’re here all year, but this is the time for people to come out and help support small business,” Thompson said.
Port Aransas is not the only city in the Coastal Bend expected to benefit from the influx of visitors over Memorial Day Weekend. America Segura, the brand manager with Visit Corpus Christi, estimates around 40,000 people will travel to Corpus Christi this weekend alone.
“Compared to our 2019 Memorial Day Weekend, we are expecting to have a huge rebound of visitors coming to our destination. With everything opening back up, and visitors feeling confident to travel again, we’re just really excited. Corpus Christi just has so much to offer and we’re ready to have a busy weekend,” Segura said.
Segura said the tourism industry generates about $1.5 billion per year, including around $22 million in sales tax revenues, and Memorial Day weekend leads into the summer, when the city typically sees the most visitors.